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AWADmail Issue 642

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

Sponsor's message: It's Officially Huge. This week's Email of the Week winner, Fred Olin (see below) -- as well as all AWADers worldwide -- can now make their own terrific fun word-nerd party for nothing. Introducing our best-selling One Up! -- The Wicked/Smart Word Game as a free PDF download, absolutely gratis. Hurree y'up.


From: Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
Subject: Interesting stories from the net

I Should Of Known
Reading Medieval Books
WebCite

Which English You Speak Has Nothing to Do With How Smart You Are
Slate
WebCite

How English Beat German as Language of Science
BBC News


From: Michelle Vitt (vitt minnehahaacademy.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--odyssey

I am a Latin teacher and drive a Honda Odyssey. For years I have told my students that I thought this was the worst name for a car as I don't want my journey home to last 10 years and be populated with misfortunes and monsters! Thank you for many wonderful years of words!

Michelle Vitt, Saint Paul, Minnesota


From: Christia Bakopoulou (cbakopoulou gmail.com)
Subject: (spell?) in

You wrote:

Consider it a week of Troy Stories. And if it's too Greek for you, well, my apollogies.

Please accept a suggestion from one of your Greek subscribers: "Apologia" and, consequently, apologetic, (at your preface of today's word, is spelled with one L.

In any case, thanks for being a friend for so many years!

Christia Bakopoulou, Athens, Greece

I remain a pal, but I was appalled to see some readers missed my invocation of Apollo.
-Anu Garg


From: Elinor Lowry (elinorlowry gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--odyssey

Apollogy accepted! In haste -- I only have a minotaur two -- I thought I would just tell you that I love these emails (in fact you're my Hera), but my son hades it when I read them out to him. He thinks his Mars crazy for enjoying these Zeusless words. He has quite a Titan busy schedule.

Elinor Lowry, Johannesburg, South Africa


From: Tony Augarde (diddlums gmail.com)
Subject: Odyssey

Your indication of the pronunciation of "odyssey" as "AH-duh-see" reminds me of the gulf between American and English pronunciation. Here in the UK, we pronounce it ODD-er-see.

Tony Augarde, Oxfordshire, UK (Author: Wordplay)


From: Andrew Knight (andrew.norwood.knight gmail.com)
Subject: Thought for Today

How ironical that A.Word.A.Day should be part of the world striving to make e.e. cummings conform to its norms, printing his name with those uppercase initials, which he so firmly rejected. Please issue a grovelling apology!

Andrew Knight, London, UK

While the poet did use unorthodox spelling in some of his work, he preferred the uppercase form when signing his name. See this discussion on Wikipedia. And don't forget to check out his signature and his grave marker.
-Anu Garg


From: Derek Noonan (noonand ntech.ie)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--cimmerian

And of course don't forget that Conan the Barbarian in both the novels and other adaptations was Cimmerian, however it's not very accurate from a historical perspective (nor in fairness to Howard, did he ever claim it was).

Derek Noonan, Limerick, Ireland


From: Chris Papa (doxite verizon.net)
Subject: Cimmerian

In Act 1 of HMS Pinafore, W.S. Gilbert has lowly seaman Ralph Rackstraw, who is secretly in love with his Captain's daughter, tell her of his great unhappiness. Gilbert puts unexpected lofty and comically confounding words in the sailor's speech, which include "Cimmerian". His last sentence always gets big laughs from the audience.

Ralph: I am poor in the essence of happiness, lady -- rich only in never-ending unrest. In me there meet a combination of antithetical elements which are at eternal war with one another. Driven hither by objective influences -- thither by subjective emotions -- wafted one moment into blazing day, by mocking hope -- plunged the next into the Cimmerian darkness of tangible despair, I am but a living ganglion of irreconcilable antagonisms. I hope I make myself clear, lady?

Chris Papa, Colts Neck, New Jersey


From: Mary Holbrow (maryholbrow hotmail.com)
Subject: narcissist

In many narcissus species the blossoms tend to droop, as if leaning over the water to admire their reflections.

Mary Holbrow, Cambridge, Massachusetts


From: Charlotte Macauley (ceemacauley gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--narcissist

This word reminds me of a friend. The selfie craze seriously bothers him. He believes only narcissists can possibly take so many pictures of the face they see in the mirror every day. So, he says the scientific measure for narcissism is selfie per hour (sf\h).

Charlotte MacAuley, Greater Accra, Ghana


From: Norma Meyer (nsophm gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--atlas

I believe the first "Caption this" contest of The New Yorker showed a man resembling Atlas coming up the walk to his house. Young son spots him and yells to Mom inside, (take your pick) "Mom, Dad's been on ebay again." or "Better make it a double, Mom."

Norma Meyer, East China, Michigan


From: Aimée Williams (gazellianaimee gmail.com)
Subject: Atlas

It is also a collection of functions (satisfying particular restrictions) that describe a manifold (a kind of abstract space) in mathematics.

It (the functions) maps local sections of the space concerned to the more familiar one, consisting of the real numbers to some dimension.

That is, the atlas allows the allocation of each point of the manifold concerned to a vector of real numbers.

Aimée Williams, Norwich, UK


Email of the Week (Brought to you by One Up! -- with our compliments.)

From: Fred Olin (fholin gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--atlas

The third definition for atlas, "The top vertebra of the backbone, which supports the skull" represents speciesism. Only in humans does the atlas support the skull. In quadrupeds it is a link to the rest of the cervical spine, but the head is held up by muscles and ligaments, varying somewhat by species.

Fred H. Olin, DVM, MD, San Antonio, Texas


From: Janet Rizvi (janetrizvi gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--charon

Listen to Charon's self-advertisement in Jean-Baptiste Lully's opera Alceste (1674). "Il faut passer tôt ou tard, il faut passer dans ma barque." "Sooner or later [you'll all] have to cross in my boat." (video, 5 min.)

Dr Janet Rizvi, Gurgaon, India


From: Harvey Lesser (HLesser gmail.com)
Subject: Charon

Charon is also the name of Pluto's largest moon.

Harvey Lesser, Boulder, Colorado


From: Stephen Glass (sglass pitzer.edu)
Subject: Words from mythology

I was a professor of Classics and Classical archaeology for 51 years, and regularly taught a class in Classical mythology. In the final exam, I always included, just for fun, a series of what I liked to call "crossword puzzle" references, among which was always a series of English words derived from Classical myth and religion. Wordsmith readers might want to try this sampler:

Procrustean
protean
bacchanalian
Sisyphean
iridescent
halcyon
chimerical
junoesque
aegis
eristic

It's interesting to note that the English language is not very decisive about whether to capitalize adjectives derived from mythological proper names. Procrustean and Sisyphean, for example, are usually capitalized, while junoesque, protean, and bacchanalian are not.

Stephen Glass, Claremont, California


A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. -Nelson Mandela, activist, South African president, Nobel laureate (1918-2013)
Oct 19, 2014
This week's theme
Words from mythology

This week's words
odyssey
cimmerian
narcissist
atlas
charon

How popular are they?
Relative usage over time

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Next week's theme
Words formed by metathesis (a transposition of sounds)

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